So, you’ve decided to have children at your wedding but are not sure how much you need to entertain them, feed them, sit them, or really what to do with them… I’ve shot many weddings with kids, and at my own wedding we invited 50 children (you can take a peek here: an Oxfordshire wedding festival), so I though I’d share a few thoughts on this subject.
So it’s more popular that children are not invited to weddings these days, so if you are inviting children, I’d say make sure it’s quite clear on the invite.
THE WEDDING PARTY AND CHILDREN
If you are having little people in your bridal party (as bridesmaids and/or ushers,) it’s a good idea to give them some kind of prep before the ceremony. Walking down an isle can send the jitters up anyone, so a little practice when you next see them, just in the garden or something, can just help them visualise what to expect. And if one lacks a bit of confidence, pairing them with older ones is always a good idea.
If any of the little ones kick off and decide they don’t want to play ball, just roll with it. If a three year old decides it ain’t happening – it really ain’t happening! My youngest was a toddler when we got married and she had a complete melt down just as we were about to skip down the isle! Luckily her nursery teacher was on standby, who scooped her up and kept her calm and occupied.
I’d say the ceremony can be the hardest times for children at weddings. They have to sit still and be quite, and the truth is they find it bloody boring!!!
Parents will be keeping a close an eye on their children during wedding ceremony, so you really don’t need to worry about any of this. But, if you are worried about crying babies throughout the ceremony, I’d suggest announcing at the beginning of the ceremony, that it’s fine for parents to leave the room if they need to – just to encourage them to actually leave!!
SOFT DRINKS + CANAPES
We all talk about how much alcohol we should get in for the big day, but don’t forget about the soft drinks especially if you have loads of children at your wedding. Also kids get hangry more than anyone because they have to eat more frequently, so make sure you have kid friendly snacks especially if the canapés are a bit fancy. Great kid friendly snacks would be sandwiches, sausage rolls, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, apple slices, bread sticks etc.
Kids don’t necessary need entertaining at weddings – it really does depend on how many are coming and how old they are. But if you do want to lay on some entertainment for your youngest guests I’ve seen bouncy castles, magic shows, a kids room set up with toys and films, a science entertainer, and even a snake show!! (Yes, you did hear correct!)
If you are expecting little bums to stay on their seats during the speeches, it’s a good idea to provide a small activity pack for each child otherwise boredom is likely to kick in. Anything which isn’t noisy and requires the minimum of adult supervision gets the thumbs up.
WHERE TO SIT THE KIDS AT DINNER TIME
To sit children with their parents or at a separate kids’ table is the question, and like anything there are pros and cons to both.
KIDS TABLE – the whole idea of having a kids table is that it is fun and gives the children some independance, but more importantly it give the grown up’s uninturuped time to chat to other grown ups… or that’s the idea!
So, for a kid’s table to work, I’d suggest the children are no younger than 8, any younger and the parents may have to be up and down from their own table to encourage their child to sit and eat etc. If you are thinking of having the younger ones join the kids table, I can’t recommend enough having a couple of hired help to sit with them, making it fun but also they will enourage good behaviour as even the older ones can get a bit over excited and a bit rowdy! However, parents will probably thank you for taking the children off their hands for a bit so they can enjoy chatting to other guests in peace.
KIDS SAT WITH PARENTS – If a separate children’s table doesn’t appeal, another idea is to seat families with similar aged children together. At my own wedding I sat the kids on the same table as their parents but next to other children, so the kids were with their mates and therefore also entertained, but their parents were close at hand.
KIDS ON THE DANCE FLOOR
As ever, when it comes to the evening party, a lot of what you plan will depend on the ages of the children. Most kids will be happy to throw some shapes on the dance floor, chase each other around, and generally be excited about staying up late.
If you want to offer parents the chance to stay on at the party once their little ones have gone to bed, you could ask the venue about childcare options. Some venues will provide nannies to put the kids to bed, others offer the option to hire a babysitter to sit with the children once they’ve gone to sleep. A nearby ‘quiet’ room, set up for the kids with blankets and a movie, can be a good option at venues where the accommodation is not on site.
When we got married we already had two kids ourselves so our wedding was always going to be a family affair; our guest list included around 50 children. To keep them entertained we hired a bouncy castle, made some colouring/puzzle books for during the speeches and after that just let them run wild in the meadow.
Our wedding disco was in a barn away from the main house. I didn’t want people to have to leave the party early, so I hired a nanny to sit in the house once the kids had been put to bed. This was the perfect solution as everyone could keep on partying until the early hours without worrying about their little ones.
Ultimately, it’s down to the parents to keep their children happy so don’t worry too much. When my kids were younger, and we were wedding guests my handbag would be well equipped with a few toys, snacks, drawing kit, and an iPad.
Further Reading – Check out this Kids Party Family-Focused Wedding for any inspiration!!